It’s really no secret that Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays of the year – actually, it is my number one fave. To me, it’s the kick-off to all things holiday, and it starts with good food.
Since becoming the Mrs. at Casa de Crews, we’ve hosted Thanksgiving a few days prior, for my in-laws each year (and go to my parents on the day of); each time, I tend to stress because I want to do it all. I don’t want anyone to bring a thing! I want our family and guests to show up hungry, and leave with full bellies (and hearts). It’s how my mom does Thanksgiving, and it’s how her momma did it, too.
But there is something more relaxed about Thanksgiving with friends. Every one can bring a dish, drinks, décor, etc. Friendsgiving (to me) is choosing to spend the holidays with your fave peeps, because you want to, and not because you have to.
Soooo, I decided what better way to celebrate the upcoming season than with some of my fave gals from Tampa Bay and Orlando (#notbiased ;)), and host a little Friendsgiving of our own!
[bctt tweet=”How to successfully host your Friendsgiving Dinner (menu included)!”]
Our gorgeous photos were taken by the super talented Caroline and Evan Smith (Caroline & Evan Photography), and because their insanely good at their job, these photos are stunning…but please don’t feel any pressure when hosting your own Friendsgiving; celebrating Thanksgiving with friends should be a fun, and stress-free event. I mean it!
How to successfully host your Friendsgiving Dinner
Plan the menu in advance: Ask friends what they’d like to bring. Just because you’re the host, doesn’t mean you necessarily have to make the turkey (huge thanks to Robin King, owner of Three Birds Tavern, in St. Petersburg, FL, for making our tasty bird!). Someone else may be more willing (and excited) to do so. I like to base my menu around this guide. It helps to know how many sides, apps, cocktails, etc. you will need for your Friendsgiving feast.
Keep the décor simple: With many thanks to both Set Event Rentals (with Amber Veatch Designs) and Belle Fleuer by Natalie Jane, our simple table is so welcoming, and beautiful! Set Rentals provided the awesome farm table, wood chargers, and gold flatware (annnnd with thanks to Amber, she set up the plates, napkins, and menu cards) The plates are from Target, the goblets from HomeGoods, and napkins from World Market – all these finds were extremely inexpensive, but looked so nice, once it all came together.
I love love love a good tablescape with place cards, but didn’t want anything too formal. So instead of name cards (which I adore – for real, I have an entire Pinterest board devoted to them), we opted to place a menu card at each setting. I love the gold foil and purple against our gray napkins. These menu cards came from Tiny Prints, and were so easy to customize online. They’re a great way to make your table pop with a bit of color without going overboard, or spending a ton of money. These purple and gold foil pretties were the main inspiration when I was designing our table.
When I host my in-laws for Thanksgiving, I find myself worrying over the table and want everything to match perfectly. With friends, I still want a pretty table, but I’m not stressing. Everyone is pitching in, so it’s not all on me, which is such a help. When Priscilla of Vintage Rentals agreed to contribute her mis-matched wooden chairs to our table, I knew we’d be fast friends. She loves Thanksgiving as much as I do.
The menu: At mom’s house, and also with my in-laws, our dinners are pretty traditional and rarely change. Friendsgiving allows you to try different dishes from everyone, and nothing is ever the same. Below you’ll find our complete menu with links to each recipe. Enjoy!
Cheese Plate with Figs and Honey by Casa de Crews
Cranberry and Goat Cheese Crostini by Casa de Crews
Harvest Kale Salad by Supper for a Steal
Turkey with Dressing by Out of the Weeds
Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta Caesar Salad by An Appealing Plan by Krayl Funch
Spinach Gratin by Casa de Crews
No Bake Pumpkin Pie by Happily Audrey
Bundt Cake with a Cream Cheese Drizzle by Melissa Creates
Pear Sangria by The Flair Exchange
There is no way I could have successfully hosted Friendsgiving without the help of so many local Tampa vendors, and Florida bloggers who love this holiday as much as I do. Thank you, thank you, thank you! And a huge THANK YOU to the peeps at the Creative Loafing Space for letting us use their venue to host our beautiful, and tasty dinner.
Cheese Plate with Figs and Honey:
1 wedge of brie cheese, about 12oz
toast points, toasted baguettes, or crackers
1/2 cup fresh figs, halved
1/4 cup grapes
2-3 tablespoons raw honey
To Make: Place cheese on platter. Drizzle with raw honey. Surround with bread, and fruit.
Cranberry and Goat Cheese Crostini:
1 French baguette, sliced into 1/4 inch slices
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup goat cheese, softned
12 ounce bag of fresh cranberries (approx. 3 1/4 cups)
1/2 cup honey or maple syrup
1 medium cinnamon stick
Zest of one large orange
1 cup water
Put all ingredients from cranberries to water medium sized saucepan, and turn heat to medium-high. Cook over a medium-high heat for about 30-45 minutes. When most of the liquid has cooked out, turn heat down to a simmer. The longer you let this simmer, the thicker the sauce will get. Just don’t let ALL the liquid cook out or it will burn. Stir more frequently near the end. Allow to cool.
Preheat oven to 350. Place sliced baguette into a baking sheet. Brush each slice with olive oil. Bake for 10 minutes to toast.
Spread goat cheese onto each slice of bread, followed by approx 1 tbsp of cranberry sauce. Add orange zest, if desired.
My fave Spinach Gratin is from The Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten. Here.
How do celebrate Friendsgiving?
* all photos by: Caroline & Evan Photography
This is so gorgeous! And such an awesome idea. We’ve been doing some form of Friendsgiving since we moved to South Carolina. I’m not hosting this year but I am supposed to bring a few items. I have my eyes on those crostini now!
I love my family tradition but I would love to host a friendsgiving too. The menus are so cute! Well done!
Senika @ Foodie Blog Stalker says
Nichole, you’re a MIND READER!!! I literally JUST sent out my Friendsgiving invite!!! Excited to include some of your menu suggestions and follow your tips! Your spread is absolutely gorgeous <3
Yay! I hope your Friendsgiving is a huge success!
Absolutely stunning!! You did an amazing job and that Cranberry goat cheese crostini will be on my app table this Thanksgiving!
Audrey Adair says
Had such a blast working with you on this collab. Your vision came together so beautifully and I absolutely love all of these wonderful tips. xx
Audrey Adair | http://www.happilyaudrey.com
I couldn’t have done it without you! Thank you for everything! xoxo
Everything looks amazing! I love it.
Amber Veatch says
Thank you for organizing this! I absolutely loved working with this group.
I am lusting over these photos each time I view them…so, when can we do it again?! LOL…I am so glad to know you, and thank you being a part of this shoot! xo
Thanks for having me be part of your Friendsgiving celebration! Lincoln and I enjoyed it and your appetizers were fantastic. We should make it a tradition to meet up annually for a Friendsgiving par-tay. Thanks again for putting this together for us all. xo
Yes, please! I like this idea for an annual Friendsgiving – thank you (and Lincoln!) so much for being there!
Amanda Elizabeth says
Wow what a beautiful event! We celebrate Thanksgiving at Marks parents down in So.FL. The holidays have been divided already 😉
Everything turned out amazing and you are such a rockstar!
It wouldn’t turned out as amazing without some equally amazing photographers! HUGE thanks to you and Evan for indulging my little idea and helping to make it so beautiful!
Jen K says
Everything looks awesome! I cannot wait for Thanksgiving. It’s my favorite holiday.
Biana @ Blovedboston says
What a beautiful friendsgiving and such a gorgeous tablescape!! I need to make everything on your menu! xo, Biana –BlovedBoston
I. LOVE. THIS. What a gorgeous table setting and I am obsessed with those invites and menus. Drooling over that crostini!
Thanks so much, Christina! It was a wonderful shoot, annnnnd since we had the food so early, now I get to recreate and enjoy it all again in just a few weeks 🙂